Saturday, September 6, 2008


When you attend the theater on a regular basis, your level of satisfaction with the evening's performance can usually be measured by the level of excitement you feel as you exit the theater. If you've just sat through a vapid and boring production of Tom W. Kelly's new play Friends Are Forever, you might find yourself eager to reconnect with friends who are far more complex and less shallow than the characters Kelly has placed on the stage of the New Conservatory Theatre Center.

If you've attended a performance of the West Coast premiere production of Grey Gardens at Theaterworks in Mountain View, you might be curious as to why the show seemed so much less than the hype which preceded it.

If, however, you just came out of Potrero Hill's Thick House following a performance of Colman Domingo's one-man show A Boy And His Soul, you may be walking on air as you think "Holy fucking shit! I hope my friends get to see this show before the final performance!"

In 85 passion-packed minutes onstage Domingo probably  burns up more energy than I've used in the past decade as he retraces his life and the soul music which provided such a strong underpinning for his growth. Parts of the audience can be heard happily humming and singing along with a wealth of soul music that shaped their lives, too.

A powerful performer who makes the most of Margo Hall's energetic choreography, Domingo primps, preens, dances, sings, rocks and rants while achieving lightning transitions between characters as he morphs in and out of the bodies and souls of his family members at various stages of their lives.  From his early days as a geeky young black kid practicing violin while his older brother and sister keep cranking up the volume on their dueling record players to his coming out as a gay man, Domingo's narration offers a rapid fire portrait of life in West Philadelphia at a time when soul music offered wounded souls a ray of hope -- a way to let their hearts travel beyond what was rapidly disintegrating into a crack ghetto.

Throughout the show he distinguishes between what he saw and heard as a youngster and what he later understood when re-viewing the same moment through the eyes of a sadder but wiser adult.  "I was always taught that in order to move forward you have to take a great glance backwards," he states in the program notes.  

That Domingo can cover so much ground so thoroughly -- with so much energy and depth of character --  is a testament to the strength of his talent as a  performer and creative artist.  A Boy And His Soul is what one truly  calls a tour de force.  So let me make this easy for you:  A Boy And His Soul ends its run at Thick House on Sunday, September 14. You can either click here to order tickets or call the box office at (415) 401-8081.  

Don't waste a moment.  Thick House is a small theater and this is one show you really do not want to miss!

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